What Can I Do with an Early Childhood Education Degree?

What Can I Do With an Early Childhood Education Degree

There’s something incredibly endearing when a child creates something beautiful with watercolors or asks a thoughtful question. It’s a privilege to watch a group of kids’ eyes light up when you read them a story or present a brand new idea.

Some adults have an inherent passion and ability to connect with little ones. If you’re in that camp, you might be wondering if a career in this field might be up your alley. It’s a joy to have the opportunity to teach children about the world they live in. You love the idea of helping give kids the best start possible in life, which is why you’re considering earning a degree in early childhood education (ECE).

But you’re probably curious about the types of careers available for ECE degree holders. Keep reading to learn more about what an ECE degree is and how it can unlock a variety of career opportunities.

What can you expect from an early childhood education degree?

Before enrolling in any program, you want to know what you’re going to get out of it. A degree in this field will provide you with the building blocks for ECE principles, while furthering your leadership and administrative skills. Not only will you be set to help develop young children, but you’ll gain business know-how and advocacy fundamentals as well.

Many ECE programs allow you to complete your degree online, which makes for an even easier transition into the career of your dreams. The knowledge and training you acquire will prepare you for a variety of different careers, depending on what you’re seeking.

7 Career options for early childhood education degree holders

So what can you do with an early childhood education degree? Here are just a few of the careers you can consider once you’ve got that diploma in hand.

1. Preschool teacher

Median annual salary: $28,120*

Projected growth (2014 – 2024): 7%

Preschool teachers are some of the first people to truly have an impact on your child. These professionals care for and educate young children, typically ages three to five, and help them develop the foundations that will take them into their elementary years and beyond. Preschool teachers teach a variety of subjects including math, science, writing, art and more. They can work in both public and private schools and often work in childcare centers or other organizations as well.

2. Teacher assistant

Median annual salary: $24,430

Projected growth (2014 – 2024): 6%

Teacher assistants in the early childhood education division aid ECE teachers by reinforcing lessons, enforcing classrooms rules, helping teachers prepare materials and assisting with anything else a teacher might need. While the lead teacher generally presents the lesson to the class, the teacher assistant can aid small groups or individual students who have more questions during work time. Teacher assistants can also help with grading tests or checking over homework.

3. Childcare center director

Median annual salary: $45,260

Projected growth (2014 – 2024): 7%

Childcare center directors also work with children, but in a much more hands-off capacity. They assume a managerial role in overseeing the entire childcare center. This includes supervising childcare workers and preschool teachers, establishing and enforcing policies and handling any higher-level issues with children, facilities, staff or budgets. Some childcare centers are independently owned and operated while others are part of a national chain.

4. Childcare worker

Median annual salary: $19,730

Projected growth (2014 – 2024): 5%

Childcare workers work on the front lines in childcare centers. They directly care for the children, prepare meals and snacks, change diapers, organize activities and maintain schedules and routines to ensure a smoothly operating center. This profession is definitely hands-on and allows workers to get a firsthand look at charting children’s progress and development, as well as introducing them to basic fundamentals. Childcare workers may work with before- or after-school programs or in a full-time childcare center.

5. Special education teacher

Median annual salary: $55,980

Projected growth (2014 – 2024): 6%

Special education teachers have a deep level of compassion and patience and find joy in working with students who have a wide range of learning, emotional, mental and physical disabilities. These teachers assess students’ abilities to map out an educational plan and adapt lessons to meet the needs of students. They must also work with the parents and teachers of disabled students to make sure their learning environment is helpful and safe for them. Special education teachers may work one-on-one with students or with several disabled students in a classroom.

6. ELL teacher

Median annual salary: $49,590

Projected growth (2014 – 2024): 7%

English Language Learner (ELL) teachers assist students in strengthening their understanding of the English language. They help students learn English while integrating that knowledge into other lessons to reinforce student learning. These teachers will help students “learn how to learn” in English and keep an eye out for potential learning disabilities.

7. Nanny

Median annual salary: $19,730

Projected growth (2014 – 2024): 5%

Nannies are very similar to childcare workers in that are solely focused on caring for kids. The biggest difference, however, is that a nanny will generally work with the children of an individual family in their own home. A nanny helps care for kids while their parents are at work and will assume many of the same responsibilities that a parent would: driving kids to activities, preparing meals, planning activities and more. An ECE degree will make you more marketable to families looking for individual care and may also help boost your salary.

Launch your ideal childcare career

So what can you do with an early childhood education degree? It turns out there’s a whole lot of options out there! A formal education will help unlock many doors you wouldn’t have access to without a degree.

Your whole future is ahead of you – spend it by helping children build a foundation for theirs! Check out this article to start mapping out your ECE journey today: Choose Your Path: Your Guide to Early Childhood Education Careers.


*Salary data represents national averaged earnings for the occupations listed. This data does not represent starting salaries and employment conditions in your area may vary.

AUTHOR’S NOTE: This article was originally published in November 2013. It has since been updated to reflect information relevant to 2016.



External links provided on Rasmussen.edu are for reference only. Rasmussen College does not guarantee, approve, control, or specifically endorse the information or products available on websites linked to, and is not endorsed by website owners, authors and/or organizations referenced.

Lauren is a freelance writer for Collegis education who writes student-focused articles on behalf of Rasmussen College. She enjoys helping current and potential students choose the path that helps them achieve their educational goals.

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